Automation Industry Association Criticizes 60 Minutes Segment ‘March of the Machines’

January 15, 2013

Following the 60 Minutes report “March of the Machines” on January 13, the Association for Advancing Automation (umbrella trade association for the RIA, AIA, and MCA) issued the following response–

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the global advocate for the automation industry, is disappointed in how 60 Minutes portrayed the industry in Sunday night’s “March of the Machines” segment.

“While the 60 Minutes depiction of how technological advances in automation and robotics are revolutionizing the workplace was spot on, their focus on how implementation of these automation technologies eliminates jobs could not be more wrong,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of A3, a trade group representing some 650 companies from 32 countries involved in robotics, vision, and motion control technologies. “We provided 60 Minutes producers several examples of innovative American companies who have used automation to become stronger global competitors, saving and creating more jobs while producing higher quality and lower cost products, rather than closing up shop or sending jobs overseas. They unfortunately chose not to include these companies in their segment. With respect to MIT Professors Brynjolfsson and McAfee who gave their viewpoint in the piece, they are missing the bigger picture.”

To see the real story in action, A3 is urging people to attend Automate 2013, the industry’s premier trade show which is held in Chicago, Illinois next week. (January 21-24, 2013; McCormick Place; www.automate2013.com) With over 8,000 attendees from around the world, Automate showcases the full spectrum of automation technologies and solutions that are being utilized in many different industries. For free admission to the show, register atwww.automate2013.com. Several Automate speakers will address how robots are saving and creating jobs.

“To paint advances in technology as just taking jobs is very one-sided,” stated Dr. Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics & Director of Robotics, Georgia Institute of Technology. “Studies have shown that 1.3 better, higher paying jobs are created in associated areas for every one job that may be insourced. In fact, the larger issue is companies are having trouble finding qualified employees to fill these high tech job openings. We instead should focus on how best to educate our workforce in the United States so that we can remain the leader in automation technologies.” Dr. Christensen will be the keynote speaker at Automate 2013 on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:45 am. He will be speaking on how robotics impact economic growth. The keynote is free for registrants.

Another highlight at Automate is a conference session led by company executives who will share their success with using automation technologies. (January 22, 2013; 10:00 am – 12:00 pm) The session will feature Drew Greenblatt, President & Owner of Marlin Steel and Matt Tyler, President & CEO of Vickers Engineering, who will share how they successfully implemented automation technologies instead of going out of business or sending manufacturing overseas. Today they are thriving businesses and have increased hiring with better, higher paying jobs. Later, both Greenblatt and Tyler will participate in the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) CEO Round Table Discussion on ‘How Robots Create Jobs.’ (January 22, 2013; 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm) The results of a recent study conducted by the IFR on the impact of industrial robots on employment will also be discussed.

“Automation creates jobs in the United States,” said Greenblatt. “Marlin Steel is hiring people because our robots make us more productive, so we are price competitive with China. Our quality is consistent and superior, and we ship much faster. Our mechanical engineers can design material handling baskets more creatively since we can make more precise parts. Our employees have gone 1,492 days without a safety incident because robots can do the more difficult jobs while our employees can focus on growing the business. American manufacturing’s embrace of robotics will ensure a new manufacturing renaissance in this country.”

“Roughly 90% of our automated cells are producing parts that were previously made off shore while the other 10% were also globally competitive, strictly due to automation,” said Tyler. “Automation has not only allowed us to bring more jobs back to the United States due to our ‘new’ cost structure, but our profit margin has increased. This ultimately allows us to fund additional growth, which in turn creates more stateside jobs.”

For information on how to obtain press credentials for Automate, please contact Bob Doyle at (734) 994-6088 or bdoyle@A3automate.org.

A3 is the umbrella group for Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, and Motion Control Association (MCA). RIA, AIA, and MCA combined represent some 650 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward. For information on RIA, visit Robotics Online at www.robotics.org. For information on AIA, visit Vision Online at www.visiononline.org. For information on MCA, visit Motion Control Online atwww.motioncontrolonline.org.

Read the press release on Robotics Online here.


Industry Pros See Positive Outlook for Robotics in 2013

January 8, 2013

December always wraps up with a look at the past year and January always starts with a look towards the future. What will 2013 bring for the robotics industry? Bennett Brumon checks in with several top industry professionals to see what trends and market shifts they’re predicting.

Robotics Industry Expected to Thrive in 2013
by Bennett Brumon , Contributing Editor

Most players in the robotics industry are sanguine on the prospects of nearly all applications in 2013. “I think 2013 will be awesome. General industry is historically two years behind the rebound of the automotive industry, following an economic downturn. The automotive industry did not buy anything for a few years then came on strong,” says Edward Minch, Automotive Group Director of Sales and Engineering at Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc. (Wixom, Michigan). “General industry is taking care of capital investment it ignored during the recession.”

Likewise, Mick Estes, General Manager at FANUC Robotics America Corp. (Rochester Hills, Michigan) says, “I expect to see continued growth in the automotive industry with increasing investment of robotics in the power train sector. Tier Two suppliers continue to invest in robotics to remain competitive on the world market.”

Estes also anticipates strong growth in general industry. “Packaging and palletizing applications as well as assembly for the general industrial market will increase.”

John Bubnikovich, Executive Director of Marketing and Business Development at ABB Inc. (Auburn Hills, Michigan) speaks of the continuing role of the automotive sector within the robotics industry. “The automotive sector still accounts for 65 percent of the North American robotics market. Automotive’s revitalization has been very influential in the great bounce-back the robotics industry has seen recently.”

Bubnikovich goes on to say, “Robotic laser cutting is emerging as an optimal means to cut and trim hot-stamped steel, a light weight, high strength material increasingly used in the automotive industry to reduce the overall cost and weight of cars while improving passenger safety and fuel economy.”

Bin picking is one application several leaders in the robotics industry have high hopes for in 2013. “I see rapid expansion of three-dimensional bin picking, the ability to retrieve randomly arranged products from a bin,” says John Burg, President of Ellison Technologies Automation (Council Bluffs, Iowa).

Terry Zarnowski, Director of Sales and Marketing with Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. Inc. (Brewerton, New York) has a similar outlook for the prospects of bin picking in 2013. “Bin picking is now a viable reality.”

Minch sees advancements in vision technology combined with improved force sensing, as one of numerous bright spots for the robotics industry. “These advancements will help the robotics industry penetrate into new markets, such as consumer electronic equipment and automotive component assembly and random bin picking. Robots can ‘see’ and have a sense of touch. Force sensors use feedback from servomotors to tell how hard the robot is pushing on a part during assembly processes such as driving a screw.”

Read more at Robotics Online. What trends do you see for the robotics industry in 2013?

To see more of the latest robotics technology, come to Automate 2013, Jan. 21-24 in Chicago. See live demos, talk with industry pros, and find your automation solution! We’ve designed Automate 2013 with small and medium sized businesses in mind so start the new year off right — register for your free show pass today!


The Automate Show Opens Soon — Get Your Free Show Pass Today!

January 2, 2013

We are just weeks away from the opening of the 2013 Automate Show in Chicago! If you’re considering automation to improve and grow your company this year, come to Automate to see live demos, talk with industry professionals, and find the solution that’s perfect for you! Read the press release below for more information or register for your free show pass here.

(Ann Arbor, Michigan) Conference registration is now open for Automate 2013, North America’s leading automation event that takes place January 21-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“The 2013 Conference is the strongest we’ve ever put together,” says Jeff Burnstein, President of the Association for Advancing Automation, the main organizer of Automate 2013.

“We’re gearing many sessions to small and medium sized companies who are new users or considering using robotics, vision, motion control, and other automation technologies,” Burnstein asserts. One of the featured sessions highlights small company executives who have successfully automated in order to become stronger global competitors. Speakers include Drew Greenblatt, President, Marlin Steel, Torben Christensen, President, Wiscon Products and Matt Tyler, President & CEO, Vickers Engineering.

“I think companies considering automating will find this session fascinating because it will provide real-world examples of companies who would have had to either go out of business or send manufacturing offshore but instead succeeded by automating,” Burnstein said.

Other key topics covered in the conference include the fundamentals of robotics and the fundamentals of vision, new developments in industrial robot safety, new motor and drive technologies, robotics system integration, motion control technology for increasing throughput, and practical applications using vision guided robots.

More than 75 industry experts from around the world will give presentations at the five-day conference (ending January 25). Keynote speakers include Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media and Henrik Christensen, Director of Robotics at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Professionals in the vision industry can take special classes that are required to earn the highly-coveted Certified Vision Professional (CVP) designation. The CVP is offered at both the Basic and Advanced Levels, with testing also offered at Automate 2013.

The Automate conference is accompanied by a four-day trade show featuring exhibits from some 150 leading automation companies. It offers a broad-range of automation solutions for packaging, welding, assembly, material removal, inspection, painting & coating, and other leading applications.

Burnstein said the front of the show is dedicated to exhibits from system integrators, the ideal starting point for users just beginning to investigate automation or those looking for new ideas. “The integrators are the ones who put successful solutions together, so they are extremely important to the user community,” he noted.

Another show-floor highlight will be Expert Huddles, small group discussions on key topics of interest to users. “These huddles will feature industry experts leading the discussion – among the topics will be return on investment, the best first tasks for automation, and how to select a system integrator. We expect to have more than 75 huddles throughout the show and all of them are free to show and conference attendees.”

Trade show attendance is free (16 and over required). Fees are required for the Automate 2013 conference. Full details can be found at www.automate2013.com. Automate 2013 is collocated with ProMat (sponsored by the Material Handling Industry of America). ProMat is North America’s premier material handling and logistics show. “Having both of these shows together gives attendees a chance to explore the state of the art in automation solutions as well as seeing what’s coming next for both the automation and material handling industries,” Burnstein noted.

About the Organizer
Automate is organized by the Association for Advancing Automation, the not-for-profit umbrella corporation of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, and the Motion Control Association (MCA). Together these associations represent nearly 700 member companies from 32 nations. Members include suppliers, system integrators, end users, universities, consulting firms and others involved in automation.

For more information on RIA, visit www.robotics.org. For AIA, visit www.visiononline.org. For MCA, visitwww.motioncontrolonline.org. Automate show and conference information can be found at www.automate2013.com. To reach Association Headquarters, call 734/994-6088.


Website Connects Startup Designers to Factories

November 28, 2012

Anyone can have an idea for a great new product. Many people can raise the capital required for the initial startup costs, especially with crowdfunding options like Kickstarter. But not everyone has access to the manufacturing facilities and equipment needed to launch their new business. ‘Maker’s Row’ attempts to change that, connecting designers to manufacturing resources.

‘Maker’s Row’ Bridges Daunting Gap Between Design and Manufacturing
by Joseph Flaherty

3D printers make it easy to create one-off products. Kickstarter gives makers capital to produce at scale. But there aren’t many resources to help navigate the world of high-volume manufacturing. Maker’s Row, a marketplace that connects designers and American factories, aims to fix that by acclimating creators to the culture of manufacturing and making sense of obscure terms like AWO to ZQC production.

The Maker’s Row website allows designers to search for factories with keywords, browse projects the factories have worked on and, in some cases, see videos of the shops and founder in action. The site’s design and videos manage to make manufacturing feel glamorous, and even a little patriotic.

The company grew out of an organic need. Co-founder Matthew Burnett worked for Marc Jacobs and Izod before launching his own line of leather goods. He convinced a friend, Tanya Menendez, who had worked at Google and Goldman Sachs, to join him and help grow the business. After dealing with a costly manufacturing setback overseas, they realized that reorganizing the trillion-dollar manufacturing industry had more upsides than producing well-tailored accessories. They recruited a web designer named Scott Weiner and launched the service.

“Our primary mission is to bring outsourced manufacturing back home, and to plant the seeds of the next generation of businesses that will be able to easily find American manufacturing partners,” Menendez says.

Read the full article at Wired. What do you think? Will the next wave of American manufacturing come from home-run businesses?


AMT Reports Growth for Manufacturing in September

November 14, 2012

The Association For Manufacturing Technology recently released their September report on US manufacturing technologies, reflecting both a growth from the previous month and also from September of last year.

USMTO News Release for September Manufacturing

September U.S. manufacturing technology orders totaled $667.47 million according to AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTO program, was up 40.7% from August and up 13.4% when compared with the total of $588.80 million reported for September 2011. With a year-to-date total of $4,282.11 million, 2012 is up 5.6% compared with 2011.

These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals of actual data reported by companies participating in the USMTO program.

“In the 17 years that this data has been collected, there is only one other month that broke $600 million. Both of those were in months that reflected sales from IMTS, showing its strength as the largest manufacturing event in the Americas,” said Douglas K. Woods, AMT President. “It’s possible we could average $450 million a month for all of 2012 — the largest year ever for this program. This speaks to tremendous strength in the manufacturing industry, and is proof that IMTS 2012 was the strongest show seen in years.”

The United States Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report, compiled by the trade association representing the production and distribution of manufacturing technology, provides regional and national U.S. orders data of domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment. Analysis of manufacturing technology orders provides a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing industries invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.

Read the full report here at AMTonline. Was September a particularly good month for your business? Are you also noticing strong growth?


North American Robotics Industry Up 20% in 2012

November 5, 2012

North American based robotics companies are in the midst of another strong year, with new orders up 20%, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 16,363 robots valued at $1.1 billion were ordered in the first nine months by companies in North America, an increase of 20% in units and 29% in dollars over the same period in 2011.  Including numbers from outside North America, the totals are 18,844 robots valued at $1.25 billion.

The automotive OEM and component suppliers remain the robotics industry’s biggest customers, accounting for 64% of the new orders through the third quarter.  Sales to these two segments rose 45% through September.

Other industries with increased robot orders include metalworking (up 13%) and life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical (up four percent).

“The strong automotive-related orders in 2012 are especially impressive given that sales to automotive tier suppliers and OEMS jumped by even greater amounts in 2011 (77% to automotive component suppliers, 59% to automotive OEMS),” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA’s President.

“The strong growth in 2012 continues to reinforce the significant value that robots provide as a productivity tool for major US manufacturing companies.  While automotive remains the largest market, interest across a wide range of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies continues to build and will provide the foundation for long-term industry growth,” said John Dulchinos, President & CEO at Adept Technology, who Chairs the RIA Statistics Committee and serves on the RIA Board of Directors.

RIA estimates that some 225,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use.  “Many observers believe that only about 10% of the US companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far,” Burnstein said, “and among those that have the most to gain from robots are small and medium sized companies.”

To help reach small and medium sized companies, RIA is one of the sponsors of Automate 2013, North America’s broadest automation solutions show and conference.  Slated for January 21-24 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the event focuses on how robots, vision, motion control and related automation technologies can help solve challenges faced by companies of all sizes in every industry. The event is collocated with ProMat 2013, North America’s leading event for materials handling and logistics.

Drew Greenblatt, President of Marlin Steel, and Matt Tyler, President & CEO of Vickers Engineering will be among the business leaders discussing how automation helped make their small companies more successful global competitors.  They will participate in a special session following a free keynote address by Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor in Chief, Forbes Media, at 9 am on Tuesday morning, January 22. More than 150 companies will exhibit at Automate, including more than 30 complete system suppliers. For full show and conference details, visit www.automate2013.com.

Founded in 1974, RIA represents some 300 member companies, including leading robot manufacturers, system integrators, end users, research groups, and consulting firms. RIA’s quarterly statistics report is based on data supplied by member companies representing an estimated 90% of the North American market.

For more information on RIA and the robotics industry, visit Robotics Online at www.robotics.org or call RIA Headquarters at 734/994-6088.

See the original press release here.


Same Day Delivery will Alter Retailer Supply Chain

October 29, 2012

With the first choice for purchasing consumer goods tends to be from online retailers with cheaper prices, the one thing that gives many people pause is the immediacy of need. Able to wait a week for your package to arrive? No problem. But when someone needs a purchase today, their business usually goes to physical retailers.

Or maybe not. Online retailers and package carriers show a growing interest in “same day service.” With many online retailers utilizing more and more automation techniques, such as warehouse robots, a change in the supply chain could have an influence on the automation industries.

Get ready to say goodbye to the supply chain as we know it
by Mitch Mac Donald

As for what the future holds, Forrester predicts that online sales, which hit $200 billion in 2011, will grow 60 percent over the next five years. Business-to-consumer transactions already make up more than 40 percent of all parcel traffic, a ratio that’s bound to increase.

Given these trends, it seems clear the supply chain of 2020 will look radically different than it does today. Truckload carriers will be running at less-than-truckload distances. Multiple air and ground hubs will spring up. Warehouses and DCs will be designed and located strictly with the direct-to-consumer model in mind, and they will operate in round-the-clock-mode with robots breaking down pallets into small shipments at a pace manual labor can’t match. Regional parcel carriers who’ve long labored in the shadow of UPS and FedEx will thrive as demand spikes for the short-haul, flexible delivery services that are their specialty. And there will be new job opportunities as shippers, carriers, third parties, and warehouses create high-level positions dedicated to running e-commerce.

Most, if not all, of the strategy and execution will be aimed at satisfying a new class of power broker: the end user.

Read the full article here at DC Velocity. What are your predictions for how the supply chain will evolve? How will this effect the automation industries?